Sevens team have Olympic aspirations dashed by injury
Injuries forced the Bermuda sevens team to realign expectations at the Rugby Americas North Sevens held in Langford, British Columbia.
They started off the tournament, which also doubled up as an Olympic Games qualifier, with a 35-7 loss to Mexico, before going down to a heavy 62-0 defeat to eventual winners, the United States.
A 45-0 loss followed against Jamaica in the quarter-finals, before the team closed out the tournament with a 31-0 defeat to Barbados in a fifth-place play-off.
Despite the disappointing set of results, head coach Jamie Barnwell was quick to point to multiple injury setbacks that started even before the team left the island, with Miles Dismont-Robinson being forced to pull out on the eve of flying out.
To compound matters, Mike Kelly picked up an injury in training, reducing the squad down to 11 players before the first match, with a further three players also going down in the defeat to Mexico.
As a result, Barnwell, who had set his sights on a top-three finish, was quickly forced to lower his expectations for the remainder of the qualifiers.
“Unfortunately, we were hit by a bit of an injury crisis,” Barnwell said.
“We went into the tournament with only 11 players and by half-time in the very first game against Mexico, we had picked up another three injuries.
“That took out a large portion of our most experienced players, which then left us to fundamentally play with a lot of our youngsters.
“It became very apparent, very quickly to us that competing for third place was not really going to be something that we were then going to be able to do, just because all of our core experienced players had gotten injured.
“The needle changed in terms of our previous success criteria and instead, the remaining games served as a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to play some of our younger players, some of whom were making their debuts.
“Despite everything the happened, spirits remained high and we celebrated the relative small victories in what the younger players were learning from the experience.
“They did a fantastic job and I’m so proud of them and what they managed to do in light of what happened.”